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John Poole

British conductor and organist John Poole was born in Birmingham on 5 February 1934. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he began to conduct choirs and orchestras whilst an undergraduate, and at the Royal College of Organists. He gained further experience directing choirs as organist of London University's Church and musical director at University College, London. He founded the Bloomsbury Singers and Players and regularly conducted choral and orchestral concerts at St George's Church Bloomsbury. It was here that he was first noticed by the BBC, and he was soon conducting groups such as the Orchestra of the Light Music Society, the London Studio Players and the BBC Chorus (as it was then).

In 1968 he was appointed conductor of the BBC Symphony Chorus, and in 1972 he became director of the BBC Singers, a group which became, under John's direction, one of the top professional choirs. In 1973 he conducted his first concert at the BBC Proms, where he continued to give concerts, and also at London's South Bank, the Barbican, St John's Smith Square and at many major festivals and tours worldwide. He remained director of the BBC Singers until 1989, and from 1990 he was the group's chief guest conductor for three years. He still maintains a link with the group as a guest conductor.

From 1990 until 1995 he was music director of the Groupe Vocal de France, specialising in contemporary repertoire and performing in Paris, throughout France and internationally. In 1996 he founded the Academie Internationale in Parthenay, France - a workshop for singers and professional conductors.

From 2001 until 2009 he was a member of the conducting staff in the Jacobs School of Music at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, USA, conducting a stream of American  and world choral premieres, including Sven-David Sandstrom's High Mass and Magnificat, and John Harbison's A Clear Midnight.


A selection of M&V articles about John Poole

Ask Alice - On rodents, requiems and bow restorers, with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh


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